The Bobble Heads


Leonard Zwelling

         They are usually given away free at a baseball game.

         These are the toy doll likenesses of famous players with
their cartoon-like heads attached to the uniformed body of the doll by a spring
so that the head bobs up and down. They are used to attract fans to games that
are otherwise likely to be lack luster. Of course, this year, the Astros whole
home schedule might be lack luster, but many of us have hope that a mid-season
correction is just a bobble head giveaway around the corner and that Minute
Maid Field may yet host the World Series again.

         Alas, the bobble heads to which I am referring in the title have
nothing to do with baseball.

         This is the name I have been informed by several that the
faculty uses to refer to the current Provost and Chief Medical Officer in
tandem as the two of them fan out across Holcombe to do the bidding of their
Darth Vader-like boss.

         They have become known for their vindictiveness, smarmy
attitudes, and oily innuendos as well as their rude way of interacting with a
number of prominent faculty members in their efforts to fulfill the vision of
their boss. That vision seems to be to erase the vision of the previous
greatness of MD Anderson. Anderson is becoming a nameless collection of
squirming faces on a television screen advocating the elimination of cancer
without identifying themselves or why they should even be trusted or believed,
not to mention how they are uniquely poised, to make cancer history. I have
come to hate those commercials and find myself rooting for the bobbing (but
identified) heads at the Cancer Treatment Centers of America because at least
they tell you who they are and why their credentials should be met with

         (I know. I need to get over the commercials but all I can
think of is those great spots from about 20 years ago when MD “stopped time”
for the cancer patient, circled the patient for 360 degrees of care, and put
the patient back into his or her life. Those were great!)

         I am afraid that there really is no evidence that the Bobble
Heads embody the core values of Integrity, Caring and Discovery. In fact, there
is ample evidence that they embody the antithesis of these values—insincerity,
indifference and darkness.

         So then the only remaining question is how they get away
with it.

         I am afraid that the answer is in the mirror. The faculty
lets them get away with it by cowering in conference room corners and begging
for the scraps of largesse that occasionally drip down like orts from a dinner
table to a mutt scrounging for bones.

         The faculty has done what the leadership could not. It has
minimized itself and marginalized its influence.

         Unless and until the Faculty Senate puts its collective foot
down and demands the ouster of DePinho, the Bobble Heads and the rest of the
FORDs and requests that the Master SEAL in Austin actually do his job, this
will persist.

         Enjoy the game. Cracker Jacks, any one? At least with them
the prize is inside. And sometimes it is a compass, so you don’t lose your way—or
your head.

Leonard Zwelling